how far apart should pergola rafters be

How Far Apart Should Pergola Rafters Be | Learn Our Untold Facts

In ancient Italy, they did not have to worry about how far apart should pergola rafters be. Do you know why that was the case? Because they were so skilled in grand masonry in the renaissance period. The designs of pergolas then were traditional, yet they were grand designs. However, the term pergola has overcome the restricted meaning it used to have, as it may now be said to include pergolas made of wood. How can we know what spacing option a pergola rafter should have if we do not have full insight into what a pergola is? Therefore, in the following paragraphs, we will give you a full understanding of what pergola is and other related subheadings. Relax while we give you the full details.

What is a pergola? 

A pergola is an outdoor structure that possesses four legs or pillars that give it support, and the other part which is the roof, which could be beam or rafters which in most cases can be left roofed (covered) or sometimes left to be open, depending on the choice of the owner. Soltec noted that most pergola is usually attached to a house, but other homeowners prefer if it stands alone, as it brings its beauty and structural design to the home.

It is now mostly used to provide shade in the garden where you can sit with friends or family and have a good time out. As it keeps evolving, people have now fashioned out other ways to use the pergola. Some have the concept of having a grill area under the pergola, and some go as far as having sofas littered here and there. Though in such a situation, the pergola will be covered with a beam or rafters. While some prefer the pergola to be attached as an extension to the interior of a house. Many others prefer it as a form of creative structure for entertainment and the like.

The pergola is also a desirable structure for pool parties where people can sit just a few inches away when they only want to watch others swimming or try something different. There is no limit to the different kinds of Pergola structures you can have in or around your home. If you have one designated for a picnic, then that’s fine. If you want another for grilling or you could have an additional one to make three, that is, the one for your personal meditation. The options are endless, it is based on your preference and how much you are willing to spend to erect each of the structures.

How far apart should the pergola rafter be 

Pergola rafters are very important for your pergola to come out looking well-structured and nice. That is why it is necessary to know how far apart should pergola rafter be. Typically, the spacing option between rafters should be evenly distributed for a perfect finished pergola. Under this heading, we will discuss the step-by-step guide on how far apart should pergola rafter be. Let’s get started!

Step 1

Take measurements to get the distance across each of the girders.

Step 2

You need to determine what width is required for your pergola rafter boards.

Step 3

Determine how wide your pergola will be by placing each of the rafters you will be using across the horizontal axis.

Step 4

How long the girder is proportionate to the rafters will determine the spacing option or how far apart the pergola rafters will be. To achieve this exercise, we advise subtracting the width of the rafters when assembled together from the width of the girders. This way, you will determine the spacing options. You can always trust Pupil Houzz for your pergola beams and rafters selection.

Step 5

Under this step, you have to divide the number gotten above by the number of spacing between each rafter. The result you get from this will be subtracted by 1. The final result is how far apart your pergola rafters should be. As a side note, it is pertinent to state that the standard spacing option for the pergola is of two types. The 12-inch spacing and the 16-inch spacing. And the dimension of the beams for the pergola is between 2×4 to 2×12, with the pergola rafter span feet between a minimum of 6 feet and a maximum of 18 or 20 feet.

What are the reasons you should consider installing a pergola?

Extend your living space

According to Love Your Landscape, they are of the opinion that one of the reasons why you should have a pergola is to extend your living space. They consider that you might have already installed a patio and have fallen in love with the feel of the outside of your home. You would not have to worry about the scorching sun and when the weather is unbearable in certain instances where you should not be seen sitting outside in the open. The reason why this is so is that the pergola provides shade and protection from the elements.

The wood quality

Why would you not consider a pergola when cedar wood is the best on the construction market? It is said to last even when untreated, and there would be no insect infestation nor the degradation or decay of the wood. There is also that beauty that accompanies the cedar wood from the factory that never leaves.

Design Option

When you want to build a pergola, there are two design options. You can decide to go for the fixed design, that is, the pergola is already built. You just need to purchase the parts and assemble them at your home. Whereas if you go for the custom design option, it is open for you to customize the design you desire for your pergola.

How to choose the right pergola rafter for your house

Choosing the right pergola rafter for your house depends on several factors and the design. However, when choosing a pergola rafter, you should go for the one that goes with your backyard and the style that matches your home.

Mid-Atlantic Deck and Fences Co list the design options open to you as follows:

  • Cladded Design Pergola
  • Pitched pergola
  • Pergola Infills
  • Open Top pergola
  • Sail Pergola

How far apart should pergola rafters be to ensure safety during outdoor barbecues?

Grilling barbecue under your pergola rafters is the best experience in your home. But there are things you should do so as to ensure the safety of your home and your pergola rafters. These are:

  • Ensure that your greenery is at least two feet away from other structures to ensure safety and prevent fire occurrences.
  • Stay with your griller every time you have the fire lit. You do not want to take your eyes off the grill or chat with your family inside. If possible, have a fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Any privacy screen, curtains, or canopies should be open when you use the grill for air circulation and proper ventilation.

How far apart should pergola rafters be: Tips

  • Obtain the necessary permit before installing a pergola in your home.
  • Get desired accessories to beautify your pergola.
  • Painstakingly assemble the rafters so they have the same spacing option.
  • Stick to a work plan when you install your pergola.
  • You should ensure that all the woods you will need to set your pergola up are cut before your begin putting the structure together.
  • You can choose to attach a pergola to the roof of your house.

How far apart should pergola rafters be: FAQ

Do pergola rafters need to be notched? 

For a durable pergola, it is the practice that you should notch the pergola rafters. This will help the support beams to have the necessary alignment it needs with the pergola rafters. Though the notching process is time-consuming, it is noted to be worth it if you want your pergola rafters to stand the test of time.

How far can a 2×8 span on a pergola? 

How far a 2×8 span can be on a pergola is usually based on preference. But if we were to give you an insight, a 2×8 span should go as much as 12 feet horizontally.

How much weight can a 2×6 rafter hold?  

The weight that a 2×6 rafter would hold depends on the feet. A typical span that has just 1 foot will support the weight of about 100 pounds, but this could decrease when the foot increases. Therefore, if the span is 100 feet or above, then the 2×6 rafter will be unable to hold as much weight.

What size should the beams be for pergolas?  

The size a beam would fit for a pergola will depend on the size of the pergola. A pergola that is very long may require more beams. As a mathematical rule, a pergola span of 10 feet will need a beam of 2×6 size. And the number increases as the pergola will span.


This article discussed what a pergola is and why you should consider installing one in your home. Then we needed to highlight how far apart should pergola rafters be, as it is the core of the article. Tips have been provided on the selection, installation, and maintenance of the pergola. We advise that you follow through with them to give your home the best pergola design and styles. Good luck!



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *